When Duluth’s Lakewalk was a junkyard


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Walking the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth’s Canal Park now, along the well-used Lakewalk, it’s hard to imagine that just a few decades ago much of that shore was used as a junkyard.

The photo above (click on the image for a larger view) has no caption information, so we don’t know who the men are or just when it was taken. But the First United Methodist Church (coppertop) is visible atop the Hillside, so it’s sometime after the mid-1960s. (If you know who the men are, please post a comment)

The picture was used for some kind of article on cleaning up the city. Here’s another view, looking toward the Duluth Ship Canal:

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After years of cleanup – and fill supplied by the excavation work needed to create the Interstate 35 tunnels in downtown Duluth – the Lakewalk opened in 1988.

Gradually, the industrial businesses in Canal Park closed or moved elsewhere. The last one – Duluth Spring Co. – relocated its remaining Canal Park employees in 2008; the site is now home to Canal Park Brewing Co.

That photo above, looking over junked cars toward the ship canal… here’s a view of what the Lakewalk looks like in that area today:


Here’s a previous Attic post that shows some of Canal Park’s industrial past:

Northwestern Iron & Metal, 1978

Share your memories of the Lakewalk – or what preceded it – by posting a comment.

38th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald in the Twin Ports with the tug Arkansas, circa early 1960s. (News-Tribune file photo)

Other duties at work have kept me from posting many new items to the Attic in recent months, but I have to note that today – Nov. 10, 2013 – is the 38th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a massive storm on Lake Superior. The freighter’s crew of 29 men, including several from the Northland, died when the ship sank in eastern Lake Superior off Whitefish Point on Nov. 10, 1975; it had been heading from Superior to Detroit with a load of taconite.

A little after 7 p.m. that day, the Fitzgerald was in radio contact with the nearby Arthur M. Anderson, and reported that they were “holding our own” in heavy seas. There was no further contact with the freighter; minutes later the ship had disappeared from radar screens.

I compiled a number of archive photos and other information about the Fitzgerald in 2010, on the 35th anniversary of the wreck. You can view that post here.

Among the items posted there is this well-done video for Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck:

Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald, and all Great Lakes wrecks, this afternoon. They will toll a bell 29 times for each man who lost his life on the Fitzgerald, and then toll the bell a 30th time for all lost mariners. After that, the lighthouse’s beacon will be lit. It’s the only time each year when visitors can climb to the top of the tower while the beacon is lit and revolving.

The lighthouse will be open from noon to 6 p.m. today; the memorial service is at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $7 per person, free for Minnesota Historical Society members.

Here’s a News Tribune video of the Nov. 10, 2011, memorial ceremony at Split Rock:

Share your memories by posting a comment.

37th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald


The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald is guided by the tug Vermont under the Blatnik Bridge and through the opening in the Interstate Bridge, circa 1960. (News-Tribune file photo)

Today – Nov. 10, 2012 – is the 37th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a powerful Lake Superior storm. The crew of 29, including several men from the Northland, died when ship, heading from Superior to Detroit with a load of taconite, sank off Whitefish Point in eastern Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.

A little after 7 p.m. that day, the Fitzgerald was in radio contact with the nearby Arthur M. Anderson, and reported that they were “holding our own” in heavy seas. There was no further contact with the freighter; minutes later the ship had disappeared from radar screens.

I compiled a number of archive photos and other information about the Fitzgerald in 2010, on the 35th anniversary of the wreck. You can view that post here.

Among the items posted there is this well-done video for Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck:

Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald, and all Great Lakes wrecks, this afternoon. They will toll a bell 29 times for each man who lost his life on the Fitzgerald, and then toll the bell a 30th time for all lost mariners. After that, the lighthouse’s beacon will be lit. Find more information about the ceremony here.

Here’s a News Tribune video of the Nov. 10, 2011, memorial ceremony at Split Rock:

And here’s a photo I took a little later that afternoon, of the lighthouse shining out over Lake Superior from its lofty perch:

Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.

The wreck of the Thomas Wilson

At 10:40 on a clear, calm Saturday morning almost exactly 110 years ago, the inbound freighter George G. Hadley collided with the outbound whaleback steamer Thomas Wilson just off the Duluth Ship Canal in what the News Tribune reported was “one of the most spectacular and disastrous marine catastrophes” of the time.

The Wilson sank in minutes on June 7, 1902, with the loss of nine of its 21 crew. It still lies beneath the waves of Lake Superior within site of Canal Park and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, where an exhibit on the wreck will be formally opened at 1 p.m. Monday.

The exhibit has been open for a while now. Center director Thom Holden said the it features some items that have been in the center’s collection for several decades, and some new acquisitions made in recent years from divers who recovered them from the wreck.

Here’s an account of the collision written by the News Tribune’s Chuck Frederick in May 1996, when the wreck site was named one of Minnesota’s most endangered historic sites because of damage caused by ships’ anchors:

On a glorious June day in 1902, the whaleback steamer Thomas Wilson sailed quietly across glass-still water through the Duluth entry and into Lake Superior.

Less than a mile out, the wooden freighter George Hadley was changing course. The captain had decided not to enter the harbor in Duluth. He steamed the ship instead toward the Superior entry — and into the path of the Wilson.

Neither boat was able to yield. The nose of the 287-foot Hadley slammed into the broadside of the Wilson. She went down fast. Water poured into cargo holds that had been left unsecured. The captain figured he could save time by bolting down the hatch covers during the trip across the calm lake.

Within minutes, the Wilson’s mast was all that was left poking through the still water about a half-mile from the Duluth entry. The Hadley was able to beach itself along Minnesota Point where it could later be salvaged and repaired.

Nine crew members went down with the Wilson, a ship that is now part of Northland shipping lore. She was built in 1892 in Superior at the American Steel Barge Co., an ancestor to today’s Fraser Shipyards. The company was owned by Alexander McDougall, who designed the whaleback steamers, including the SS Meteor, a sister ship to the Wilson that now is open for tours on Superior’s Barker’s Island. The Wilson’s anchors are displayed on the lawn in front of the Marine Museum in Duluth’s Canal Park.

The wreck is popular among divers, who wait for northeasterly winds to push in clear water. But it’s not the ship it used to be, they say. “It has been utterly destroyed” by the anchors dropped by Great Lakes vessels, said Elmer Engman, a Proctor diver who owns Inner Space Scuba Equipment along Miller Trunk Highway.

“It looks like a ship that’s been in a war,” said Scott Anfinson of the State Historic Preservation Office in St. Paul. “It looks like someone’s been dropping bombs on it. Instead of colliding with one ship, it looks like it was hit by five or six boats all at once.”

The Wilson’s deck has been destroyed by the anchors, but the forward cabins and bow structure are still intact.


Here are links to the front page and a jump page of the News Tribune from June 8, 1902, the day after the wreck. You can read the full account of the sinking of the Wilson, and also look at what else was making news 110 years ago:

Thomas Wilson wreck front page

Thomas Wilson wreck jump page


June 7 is the anniversary of another well-known Lake Superior wreck – the America, which sank at Isle Royale on June 7, 1928. The history website Zenith City Online has a post about the America here.

The bow of the America can still be seen just beneath the surface – close enough to touch with an oar from a boat when I visited there in the 1990s.

Odds and ends old photos of Duluth

Here are some random old photos of Duluth from the News Tribune files that I just don’t have enough information about to build an entire post for each. So I’ll assemble them here (click on the photos for a larger view)…

Gowan-Peyton-Twohy Co. and other businesses and warehouses at the foot of Fifth Avenue West in Duluth, circa 1900, near where the Great Lakes Aquarium stands today. There are quite a few posters hanging on those low buildings to the left. Using a magnifying glass, I was able to (I think) read only one of them…

In the middle of this zoomed-in view is a poster showing a large horseshoe and (again, I think) the brand name Nev-R-Slip Shoes.


This postcard view of the Duluth Ship Canal, circa 1902, predates construction of the Aerial Ferry Bridge.


This photo is a copy of a copy (of a copy?) and is labeled “1873 – above Fourth Street.” It’s looking east toward Lake Superior. Here’s a slightly more-zoomed-in view:

Have any information about what you see in these photos? Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

Photos of the Aerial Ferry Bridge

Before it was the Aerial Lift Bridge, the Duluth icon was the Aerial Ferry Bridge.

When the span linking Canal Park to Park Point first opened in 1905, a gondola – or “aerial ferry” carried passengers and vehicles across the ship canal. The bridge was converted to its present lift-and-lower span in the winter of 1929-30.

I’m unsure of the origin of the photos with this post; I don’t think they were taken as News Tribune photos. They may have been sent in by readers at one time, but they’ve been residing in dusty files upstairs here for years. Whatever the source, they offer some nice glimpses of the Aerial Ferry Bridge; click on each photo for a larger view:

Duluth’s Aerial Ferry Bridge as viewed from the Lake Superior side, circa 1918.


Aerial Ferry Bridge viewed from Park Point side, circa April 1923. Signs on buildings to the right of the bridge structure on the far side read “Auto Transfer and Storage Co.” and (I think) “Hoopes Real Estate Loans.”


Aerial Ferry Bridge viewed from Park Point side, April 1, 1923.


Boarding the Aerial Ferry Bridge gondola from Park Point, April 1923.

Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

36th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Today, Nov. 10, 2011, is the 36th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a November gale on Lake Superior.

Last year, on the 35th anniversary, I compiled a pretty extensive collection of photos and video related to the wreck. You can view that entry here.

I may try to dig up some more stuff to post later today, but in the meantime I’d suggest you look at last year’s post… and listen to Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck, and think about the ship and crew on that stormy night – and all the other ships and crews that have been wrecked on the Great Lakes over the years:


Split Rock Lighthouse will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald wreck, and all Great Lakes wrecks, this afternoon. More information on the event is here.

Duluth’s long-gone King Neptune statue

Reader John Michel e-mailed a couple of photos earlier this month of the 26-foot-tall King Neptune statue that used to grace Canal Park from 1959 to 1963. There’s this view from a postcard:

And then this view from the other side that he found online; I don’t have a source, so if you know where it came from, let me know and I’ll post the proper credit:

This photo was reversed hen I first posted it; it’s correct now.

The statue had a brief but tumultuous history in Duluth. The News Tribune’s Chuck Frederick did a great job of recounting the tale in a column that ran September 9, 2006. Here it is:


By Chuck Frederick, News Tribune

Sometimes olden is just old. Not historic. Not significant. And when gone, not a lost treasure. Just lost.

So goes the story of Duluth’s King Neptune. Memories of the 26-foot, 2,000-pound statue that once stood guard over the Duluth ship canal were sparked this summer when Duluth historian and postcard collector Tony Dierckins came across a card featuring the mythical Roman god of the sea. Dierckins dropped me a whatever-happened-to e-mail and the News Tribune published a call for answers — and memories.

The story that emerged, disappointingly, wasn’t nearly as golden as Duluth’s once-proud painted statue.

“Neptune was a hunk of junk,” Duluth’s Lyle Bergal recalled. “Depressing to look at. An eyesore. It was just a disgrace to the city.”

However, as Bergal also recalled, the statue didn’t start out that way. In fact, the big guy was heralded by Duluth Mayor E. Clifford Mork as a “tremendous tourist attraction,” especially among “picture-taking travelers” in 1959, shortly after the Minnesota State Fair Board voted to donate the statue to Duluth. Neptune had been on display during the Great Minnesota Get-Together to commemorate the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The city’s chamber of commerce, visitors bureau, and retail merchants association came up with the cash to truck Neptune from St. Paul to Lake Superior. At least a dozen businesses provided men or equipment to load and unload Duluth’s newest resident.

With a trident in one hand and a replica of the Ramon de Larrinaga, the first large ocean-going vessel to reach Duluth, in the other, Neptune was hoisted with a crane onto a concrete base not far from the maritime museum. The late-fall dedication was well attended, and D.T. Grussendorf, the State Fair Board member from Duluth who was honored for nabbing Neptune, said the statue exemplified Duluth’s “rugged individualism” and “tenacity.”

“City officials and civic boosters made a big deal about its unveiling,” longtime News Tribune columnist Jim Heffernan recalled. They sure did. Mayor Mork even christened the statue by smashing a bottle of champagne. Luckily, he aimed at the concrete base.

Lucky because, within weeks, Neptune began showing his true quality — or lack thereof. Small stones thrown up on shore by Lake Superior’s waves punched holes into his robe. That despite Neptune’s reported construction of durable fiberglass and a weather-proof plastic composite.

The following spring, Neptune had to be patched and repainted, a maintenance job city crews wound up repeating annually. “He was awfully hard to keep repaired,” Charles K. Ulsrud, the city’s superintendent of buildings and grounds told the Duluth Herald in 1963. “We just couldn’t keep him from falling apart.”

The losing battle wasn’t helped when kids and other vandals threw stones at Neptune or kicked holes into him. The city had to spend about $300 a year — nearly $2,000 today — for paint and patching material. And that’s a figure that doesn’t include workers’ time.

“He was quite an expense for the city and he never really did look good,” Ulsrud said. “If the city’s going to have such a statue, it should be constructed of a more durable material.”

As it turned out, Neptune’s plastic and fiberglass construction was only durable in a thin layer on the outside. The rest of his body, it was later discovered, was made of papier-mache, the “stuff kids use in school to make toy figures,” as the Herald reported.

“Papier-mache does not do well in Northland winters nor does it hold up to the occasional fall storm and high waves,” Thom Holden, director of the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center, pointed out via e-mail.

After only four years in Canal Park, a battered Neptune was in desperate need of major repairs. City crews, using blow torches to dismantle the pipes that held him in place, went to work to take him down in June 1963.

That’s when Neptune’s true construction material was first realized. The statue caught fire and, within minutes, was reduced to ashes.
“Duluthians had mixed emotions about Neptune,” the Herald reported on its front page on June 4, 1963. “Many thought him to be unutterably ugly and wondered why he faced out to the ship canal rather than toward the park, where he could be seen. Some thought the old fellow had been neglected, that one of his stature deserved better care.”

He probably did.

“It was a gallant effort,” Bergal said, referring especially to the good intentions that brought Neptune north.

“There are postcards and memories of his presence,” wrote Holden. And “there are still those nights … that he occasionally pays a visit to escort a lonely vessel through the canal.”

In concluding its coverage of the Neptune inferno in 1963, the Herald reported: “Fire officials declined to estimate the loss.”

Tough to put a dollar figure on an “eyesore” and “disgrace,” I guess.

Not a lost treasure. Not this time. Just lost.


Share your memories of the Neptune statue by posting a comment.

The glory days of smelting in Duluth

A crowd of about 400 smelters gathers for a small run at the mouth of the Lester River on April 25, 1986. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)

Up until the 1980s, one of the biggest gatherings in Duluth each year was the annual spring smelt run along the shore of Lake Superior and local rivers feeding into the lake.

Each spring, the call went out when smelt – a tiny fish – swarmed by the thousands to spawn. When the fish came, thousands of locals and visitors swarmed to scoop them up for smelt fries. In the 1970s, the Minnesota DNR even operated a “Smelt Information Headquarters” in the old Duluth Curling Club on London Road.

The smelt run took on a party atmosphere, and probably isn’t remembered very fondly by police and neighbors who had to put up with the rowdy crowds and litter. There are many articles in the News Tribune files from the 1970s covering meetings on what to do about smelting-related troubles.

There was at least one tragedy – in April 1981, two UMD freshmen at a smelting party were swept out into Lake Superior by the swift current of the Lester River, and drowned.

Whether loved or loathed, the smelt runs decreased over time, and largely died out through the 1980s and early 1990s. As the fish dwindled, so did the annual party on the banks of the Lester River.

Here’s a look back at some photos and articles about smelting from the News Tribune files:

Keith Buddish of Cloquet dumps a few smelt into a waiting bucket on the Lester River on April 23, 1986. Buddish was one of a growing number of people waiting with nets for the smelt run to begin. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

May 9, 1983

Rite of spring in full swing


Duluth is a city of five seasons – spring, summer, fall, winter and smelt – but it’s that fifth one which causes a lot of natives to shake in their hip boots.

Smelting is the art of catching a silvery Lake Superior fish about the size of a toothpaste tube – squeezed almost dry – with fine-mesh dip nets or minnow seines. The smelt begin spawning runs into shallow waters and up Lake Superior tributaries along the lake’s South Shore and work their way clockwise to Duluth-Superior and the North Shore.

Although all shoreline communities are invaded by fishermen during the smelt runs of late April or early May, Duluth receives the greatest number with its Park Point beaches and abundance of rivers feeding Lake Superior.

The city’s Lester River is a Mecca of the net-dipping mania and, at peak weekends of the run, hundreds of visitors and residents mingle to catch, to watch and to party while the smelt move upriver. The crowds there and at Park Point require additional police and police auxiliary personnel – and an extensive daily cleanup effort each morning after the night before.

But even residents of those neighborhoods see some good with the arrival of the smelt and smelters: It’s a seasonal harbinger that spring is here and summer isn’t far off. -END-

Dave Anderson of Sparta Location, near Eveleth, holds his “trophy” smelt at the Lester River on May 5, 1983. Anderson and four others in his party netted only a bucketful of fish in two days. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)

May 2, 1980

Smelting: A mad, springtime ritual of the night

By Pam Miller Brochu, News-Tribune


The young smelter, resplendent in waist-high waders and a BUST OPEC T-shirt, split the night air with his cry, hoisting the long-handled net in which flipped a single, startled smelt.

Ecstatic with beer and moonlight, the smelter grabbed the little fish in his muddy hand and bit its head off.

The most frenzied of spring rites, which might provoke an anthropologist’s scrutiny elsewhere, is a regular midnight occurrence on the Lester River as hordes of smelters, their inhibitions left at home, celebrate the catch of their first smelt.

The combination of a full moon, full beer kegs and crowd psychology turns the Lester into a prime night spot – or trouble spot, depending on your point of view – each year at this time, when the doomed smelt fight their way through hundreds of rubber boots at the mouth of Lake Superior rivers.

There was plenty of action Wednesday and Thursday nights, but it was subdued compared to what’s expected tonight, as the peak weekend opens.

There’s something for everyone in Lester River night life – pockets of absolute mania on some rock outcrops, quiet family gatherings on others. Small children risk their lives crossing the narrow, fast-moving current rushing into the lake; senior citizens sit in lawn chairs and take it all in.

Duluth police officer James Wright stands patrol on the Lester River bridge during smelting on April 25, 1986. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)

Around 10 p.m. Wednesday, the smelt weren’t running heavily, but the smelters were. They poured into the area by car, cycle and foot. It was rush hour on the river, and Mike Ferrazi and Frank Ruby of the Lakehead Emergency Volunteers calmly directed crowds of pedestrians through the heavy traffic on the Lester River bridge.

“No problems so far,” shouted a cheerful Ferrazi over the hubbub. “Slow DOWN!” he yelled at some passing hotrodders. They ignored him. …

Down on the rocks, darker than usual because of the ban on fires, there were more partiers than smelters.

“This is the highlight of my year,” said one exuberant young man, sloshing his beer for emphasis. “You can really get crazy, you know? But don’t use my name. By day I’m real respectable … can’t blow my cover.” …

Rick LeBlanc of Hermantown surpassed tradition by biting the head off not just his first smelt, but about two dozen others, too, at the Lester River on May 5, 1983. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)

There were many serious folks, too – those who came primarily to net smelt.

Don Uhlhorn, 27, and his wife, Mary Burmeister, 28, had come from Sandstone with three large buckets.

“I’ll spend all day tomorrow cleaning them, then divide them up in meal-size portions,” Uhlhorn said. “We give them to my folks, Mary’s folks, friends, neighbors and our cat.” …

“Smelting’s a tradition for us,” said Al Heins, who comes annually from Grand Rapids with his wife Linda and their children Jan, 17, and Lyndy, 16, to stay with Heins’ sister, Connie Merrill, 2525 E. Fourth St.

Oblivious of the icy water, Lyndy plunged into the river without waders. Jan was less enthusiastic. “It’s a heck of a long way to come for a few fish,” she said.

Elizabeth Rios of Newport, Minn., watches out for potential customers to her Marina’s Lunch Wagon during smelting at the Lester River on April 25, 1990. Rios, her husband and two daughters planned to stay as long as the season lasted. (Clara Wu / News-Tribune)

From the river, a smelter let loose a string of profanities. Pained, one mother covered her small daughter’s ears. The partiers and the families keep their distance from each other, and around midnight, the partiers take over.

But smelting, like television networks, has its family hour – before the sun goes down and before the smelt get thick. In the warm glow of Wednesday and Thursday evenings, the beach was crowded with children skipping stones and learning how to swish the nets.

Rick and Gayle Frenzen, 1017 N. Seventh Ave. E, were on their first-ever outing with Shawn, 2, and Ricky, 4, Wednesday.

“It’s a big thrill for the kids to get out here,” Gayle Frenzen said.

Ricky Jr. cast a line in the fashion of a four-year-old, almost hooking his father, who readied the smelting nets and buckets.

“I’m gonna catch a smelt,” he said solemnly. “A smelt four feet long.”

Hours later, around 3 a.m., the crowd thinned out, but the hardcore smelters left were pulling in nets heavy with fish – just as if the smelt had waited for the darkest, quietest hour to make their final run, unhampered by nets – and human teeth.

Bags of bottles, cups and cans give visitors Lucille and Ed Sobania of Little Falls, Minn., a good idea of what happened the night before on the Lester River on May 5, 1983. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)

Share your smelting memories by posting a comment. If you have photos to share, e-mail them to akrueger(at)duluthnews.com.

Victory Chimes, 1986

There’s a story in Thursday’s News Tribune about the Victory Chimes, a tall ship that for a few months called Duluth home – before financial and logistical difficulties resulted in the ship being repossessed by the bank, auctioned off and eventually sold to a buyer who moved it out of town (the buyer was Domino’s Pizza, but we’ll get to that later on).

In any case, I thought it would be a good chance to take a look at some photos of the Victory Chimes’ stay in Duluth. We’ll start with this Oct. 21, 1986, article about Denfeld physics students’ trip aboard the vessel:

The Victory Chimes sets sail from its Duluth berth with its Denfeld physics class passengers on Oct. 20, 1986. (Photos by John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

Denfeld physics students steer new course on Victory Chimes

By Linda Hanson, News-Tribune & Herald

For most people, the three-masted schooner Victory Chimes brings to mind romantic visions of life at sea – not physics.

But for 100 Denfeld High School students, the 86-year-old ship was their physics classroom for two hours Monday.

"Physics is not just in a book," said Denfeld physics teacher Ed Felien. "Physics is in everything you do. We try to illustrate that whenever we can."

As part of their physics classwork, students learn how to navigate with a compass, said Polly Hanson, a student teacher who arranged the field trip. Hanson, 21, is a senior at the College of St. Scholastica.

For example, the students must learn how to calculate how wind and currents affect the course of a ship, Hanson said.

Hanson thought it would be good for students to see firsthand how navigation works.

"In class, we’re working on vectors – those are directions on a compass," said Tim Sisto, 17, a senior.

"If you’re off on your vectors, you’re lost," added Mike Vukonich, 17, a senior.

There were no formal lessons on the ship, but students were encouraged to ask the crew questions.

Debbie Shepard, 16, said she learned three nautical superstitions from a crew member.

"Never whistle on a ship. That’s because they used to do commands by whistles and it would be confusing if someone was whistling," she said. "Also, women are bad luck and they don’t belong on a ship. And never change the name of a ship."

Debbie said a crew member explained that the ship use to be called the Edwin and Maud, but the name was changed to the Victory Chimes after World War II.

The ship’s two auxiliary engines, which are used for raising the sails and anchors, were named Edwin and Maud because of the superstition, she said.

Crew member Carol Bresser steers the Victory Chimes through the harbor while answering the questions of physics students.


Several students gathered in the captain’s quarters to hear a crew member explain the workings of the ship’s computerized navigational system called Loran C. The sailor explained how the system uses radio signals to determine the ship’s position.

"The signals form a hyperbola," he said.

"That sounds like calculus," one student moaned. "I hate calculus."

THis was the first trip on the Victory Chimes for most of the students, but it was the last outing of the season for the schooner and crew. The ship will spend the winter in the Minnesota Slip and will re-enter service next spring, said Capt. Sandy Clark.

While the ship made its final loop around the Duluth harbor in the balmy October air, not everyone’s mind was on physics. Some students visited with friends, while others talked about what it would be like to go for a long voyage on the Victory Chimes.

Danice Klimek, 15, leaned back on the rail and smiled, the sun glinting off her purple sunglasses.

"I’d love it," she said about going on a long voyage. "It’d be just me and nature."

Pat Smith, 17, thought a long trip would get old fast because you’d be cooped up with the same people for too long.

Danice said, "If I got riled up, I’d just go out and look at the stars. That always calms me down."

Denfeld juniors Wendy Whelihan, 17, Carolyn Flaim, 16, Jennifer Forstrom, 16, Terri Panyan, 16, and Dawn Sobczak, 16, drink soda and talk during their physics class cruise on the schooner Victory Chimes.


Stepping back a bit, the Victory Chimes’ move to Duluth was discussed for some time before it actually happened. According to news accounts, architect Ted Rosenthal of Carlton first tried to buy and bring the ship here from Maine in 1976, but that effort fell through. Plans were revived in summer and fall 1985, with Rosenthal – joined by Duluthian Jerry Jubie, then president of First State Bank of Floodwood – bought the vessel for about $1 million.

The ship was battered by storms in early 1986 while still in Florida and on the East Coast. It finally arrived in Duluth on Aug. 29, 1986, greeted by a crowd estimated at 2,000 people:

The Victory Chimes, accompanied by a welcoming flotilla, makes her way under the Aerial Lift Bridge on Aug. 29, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)


Crowds line the North Pier to watch the arrival of the Victory Chimes in Duluth on Aug. 29, 1986. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune & Herald)


Things took a turn for the worse rather quickly. By December 1986, Jubie (not sure where Rosenthal went to – he’s not mentioned) told the News-Tribune & Herald that he was putting the Victory Chimes up for sale because the cities of Duluth and Superior had not provided enough support (city officials disputed that claim).

In April 1987, Norwest Bank foreclosed on a $650,000 mortgage on the schooner. It was the subject of a public auction in July 1987, at which the bank formally purchased the Victory Chimes. Tha bank moved the Victory Chimes to Maryland; with its masts taken down and strapped to its decks, the old schooner was towed out of Duluth for the last time on Sept. 22, 1987:

Towed by the Norfolk Rebel, the schooner Victory Chimes leaves Duluth on its way to the East Coast on Sept. 22, 1987. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune & Herald)


The Victory Chimes is towed out of the Duluth harbor. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune & Herald)


In January 1988, Norwest Bank sold the boat to Domino’s Pizza Inc. for an undisclosed price. The owner of Domino’s, Tom Monaghan, planned to bring the boat to his resort on Drummond Island in northern Lake Huron, at the far eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The company refurbished the Victory Chimes and renamed it the Domino Effect, but that effort also ran into troubles. Efforts to dredge a harbor on Drummond Island to house the schooner drew environmental criticism that stalled the project. In addition, the schooner’s mast collapsed during repairs while on the East Coast, killing a crewman.

In October 1989, Domino’s announced it was putting the Domino Effect up for sale. At some point after that, the ship was brought back to Maine and renamed the Victory Chimes, and continues to offer trips along the coast – here’s the ship’s website.

The ship’s lasting legacy in Duluth is a stylized version of its silhouette, which was incorporated into a ubiquitous city logo still seen today, as shown in this News Tribune photo:

If memory serves correctly, the logo even appears on the facade of the I-35 tunnels east of downtown.


So there, in a nutshell, is the story of the Victory Chimes in Duluth. Share your memories of the ship by posting a comment.

– Andrew Krueger